Even Richard Nixon met with Vietnam War protesters at the Lincoln Memorial in 1970.
But yesterday when between 30,000 to 35,000 persons, mainly public employees, descended on Trenton, NJ to protest the proposed budget cuts by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's administration, he was no where near the statehouse. The Governor made sure to be at Monmouth Park, only 54 miles away where he signed legislation that would reduce racing from 141 days to 50 days and putting all thoroughbred racing in Monmouth Park. Christie addressed the crowd briefly between the fourth and fifth race, where he was met with a mix of cheers and boos.
And the Governor who likens himself to Working Class Everyman Bruce Springsteen was in the company of those who run a 4 billion dollar industry instead of meeting face up with the thousands who's jobs could be in jeopardy because of his fiscal policies. But hobnobbing and looking out for the well to do is something Christie does well....just last week Christie vetoed the so-called "millionaire's tax", which passed both chambers of the state legislature and would have provided property tax rebates and prescription drug benefits to the elderly and the disabled. On May 19, Christie did backtrack a bit and canceled a $310 deductible and co-pay increase for seniors in the state's healthcare programs
Chris Christie is most adept at painting pictures of the other guy as an enemy, not just of Christie but of every man, woman, child, and all other species residing in New Jersey. The qualities that made Christie an effective federal prosecutor haven't translated as a chief executive; he comes across as an arrogant Boss of Bosses, who would ruthlessly throw anyone under the bus to achieve his political goals.....even if the innocent end up as collateral damage.
|Protesters rally against budget cuts in Trenton|
|Thousands gather in Trenton for anti-Christie rally|
Christie has inherited a budget crisis that has been three hundred years in the making, one in which towns broke away from other towns for various reasons, then set up their own home rule; and with that home rule came the responsibilities of paying their teachers, police, firefighters, and all other public employees. What was needed was co-operation, but Christie decided to go with confrontation. He mocked the ideas of Democrats, who control both houses of the legislature, by saying their ideas were "ridiculous". And the Governor referred to the leaders of the New Jersey Education Association as "bullies" and to students being used by teachers as "drug mules". The rhetoric coming from this governor is worthy of a wingnut AM radio gasbag, and not the chief executive of one of America's most populous and and affluent states.
And what is beginning to emerge is the sad fact of New Jersey being governed by a bombastic braggart who doesn't have the courage to take the heat in Trenton when it was applied yesterday, just as Governor Christie did when he ran away from reporters without answering questions after students began walking out of New Jersey schools in protest of his policies last month.
This is not to say that there are not bad teachers in our school systems, or that all are worthy of praise. But the vast majority are dedicated to their jobs and are just trying to make ends meet. In New Jersey the median salary is $57,467...not bad but far from a fortune. And much less than the affluence alluded to by a certain governor.
But where do are citizens stand on this? I mean the ones who are always decrying the obscene amounts of money entertainers and professional athletes make. The ones that say "teachers deserve more pay and respect", and then turn there backs on them when they try and get that little bit extra.
Thirty-five thousand people is the largest protest- ever- in the State of New Jersey. The events yesterday were larger than any anti-war event, or anti-tax event....even larger than recent Tea Party events that received wall to wall coverage from the national media. A few thousand Second Amendment gun guys and gals showed up outside of DC in an April protest and the media covered it like it was the third Battle of Bull Run.
But where were the same media yesterday covering what in essence signaled a revolt of New Jersey's public employees, protesting a governor who's main objectives seems to be vilifying, demonizing, and ultimately breaking public employee unions in the state? MSNBC's website features a story by the AP, with no video. And CNN...not a mention...no Anderson Cooper, no nothing. Huffington Post....absent as well.
The Tea Party claims they are spearheading a new American Revolution. But revolutions often spawn counter revolutions....and we just might have seen the the birth of one in Trenton on Saturday, May 22, 2010.
Many of the sources for this opinion piece came from The Star-Ledger, and in particular the columns and reports of Tom Moran, Bob Braun, Claire Heininger, Matt Freidman, and the paper's statehouse bureau. Thanks!